Friday, July 17, 2009

A Natural Genius—Tapio Wirkkala

Tapio Wirkkala was a designer and craftsman of furniture, lighting, appliances, graphics, jewelry, ceramics, glass, metal, wooden objects—and even banknotes.

Above: A black glass Tapio vase, and a ceramic paper bag vase for Rosenthal (1977).

This Finnish gentleman may not be a household name, but his influence on 20th century design can’t be denied. You may have seen his mass-produced vodka bottle design for Finlandia vodka which was used from 1970-2000.

Above: Vintage Tapio Wirkkala stainless steel bar utensil set.

This Gemini was born in 1915 and attended the Central School of Applied Arts. He won a large number of awards over his lifelong design career, including a decorative glass competition sponsored by Iittala Glassworks in 1946.

Above: Tapio glassware that captures a single air bubble in the stem of the glass.

That award resulted in a lifelong collaboration with Iitala until his death in 1985.

Above: A Tapio Wirkkala coffee table that displays the beauty of the wood—with two leaf pattern inlays.

He created his designs from what he observed and inspired him in nature, whether it was a leaf, an icicle, or an organic shape.

Above: A Tapio vase that looks like a large chunk of ice.

He was also very mindful of the material he was working with and said, “...the designer should aim at being in harmony with his material."

Mr. Wirkkala also had a lifelong collaboration with Rosenthal that started in 1956. Mr. Peacock has some porcelain dishes (a few samples above and below), probably from the early 1960’s, that are attributed to Tapio Wirkkala. I'm not sure what the name of the pattern is—if you know, drop me a line!

These dishes have the elements of Tapio’s design—nature references (leaves), sculptural shapes, and a thoughtful use of the material (porcelain). I’m not positive they’re Tapio designs, they could simply be inspired by Tapio, but I love them anyway.

Above: A signed Tapio Wirkkala floor lamp from 1958.

Tapio Wirkkala worked briefly for Raymond Loewy in the early 1950’s, and designed everything from irons, utensils, and even television sets for Westinghouse.

Over the years he worked and collaborated with many different companies including Venini—a signed Tapio Wirkkala fused glass bottle from 1983 (above).

Throughout his life he drew on naturalistic forms and materials to design and create his work. If you don’t already have something in your home designed by Tapio Wirkkala add something today—whether it’s a drinking glass or a vase. If you would like to learn more about this design icon, there are a few good books on Mr. Wirkkala here and here. Mr. Peacock salutes this design genius for his timeless creations and commitment to his work. Thank you Tapio Wirkkala!


Scott Fazzini said...

WOW! I had no idea! His designs have certainly become classics, and copied many times over. What a haunting and brilliant designer. Thanks for sharing!

Paul Pincus said...


thank you, mr. p.!

Anonymous said...

That coffee table is impressive!


Dumbwit Tellher ♥ said...

Great post on one of my all time favorite designers. I have a few cherished pieces of his & am always on the hunt to add to my collection. I've let that lovely, heavy vase that resembled a chunk of ice slip through my fingers more than a few times. Next time!

David Toms said...

I have the italia glasses, they were a 21st birthday present oh so many years ago, and I still use them! A design classic!

Amarina said...

Thanks for this post; I had not seen his designs before and they are really very beautiful.

Susan Graham said...

It’s a pretty interesting tool. I will definitely be using it once I get the chance. Thanks for sharing!

Viagra Online said...

I've been reading a lot of articles about Tapio Wirkkala. He was a great person and he also shaped my thoughts and I want to be a gentleman like him.

Anonymous said...


Blogger said...

Get all the best alcoholic drinks at Duty Free Depot!

All the popular brand name drinks for unbelievable discounted price tags.